Systems Design Engineering

Maud GorbetCBB member, Dr. Maud Gorbet's research focuses on problems of biocompatibility with biomaterials and biomedical devices.

Biomedical devices have significantly improved the quality of life, and increased life expectancy of millions of people, however, their use is not without complications. Complications involving biological systems such as infection (vascular grafts, contact lenses), thrombosis (blood clot formation on cardiovascular devices such as mechanical heart valve) and fibrosis (orthopaedic implants, glaucoma shunts) continue to occur. Although the overall rate of complications remains low, the consequences may have fatal outcomes and the cost to treat them is significant.

Gorbet's research aim is to understand interactions between biomaterials and biological systems. A better understanding of the mechanisms of material-induced cellular activation will enable the design of materials and/or therapeutic strategies that improve biocompatibility and  reduce the risks of complications and failures.

Some of her current research focuses on the mechanisms of material-induced thrombosis (blood clot formation) with mechanical heart valves and coronary stents: in vitro models are being developed to characterize how the blood system (platelets, leukocytes and proteins) interact with medical-grade metals to create a prothrombotic state. These results will later be used to develop in silico models of thrombosis. Her other area of research is towards the development of better in vitro models that can help understand and solve material biocompatibility problems. These in vitro models are used to identify the interactions between the material and biological systems and test hypothesis regarding the mechanisms of these interactions. These findings can then be verified in vivo or in clinical settings. Ophthalmic biomaterials, such as soft contact lenses and keratoprosthesis, are currently the main focus of this research.

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University of Waterloo

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